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Falcons eye third playoff spot

BASEBALL: Pitching depth should make La Salle a factor in the Capital Conference playoff chase

MILWAUKIE - La Salle first-year head baseball coach Chris George is excited about La Salle baseball and he believes his Falcons can contend for a Capital Conference berth in postseason play.

'I think Gladstone's the favorite, just based on tradition and their coach….,' said George.

'North Marion graduated some people. But they've also got some good athletes and tradition. They should be right up there.

'I think it's pretty open after that. I think we've got the potential to claim that third spot.'

George knows baseball. He was a first-team all-state shortstop playing under his dad, Bill George, at La Salle; and he played third base for a Willamette University team that won a league title and placed fourth at the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Now that Chris George has become the head coach, he's got his dad assisting him.

'With Chris coaching at La Salle and his dad helping him, they'll turn that program around,' said Gladstone coach Casey Webster.

The Falcons struggled a year a ago, going 2-16 in the Tri-Valley League and 4-21 overall.

'We have pretty good pitching depth,' said George. 'I've got six guys we can put on the mound with good stuff. We're gonna make people hit the ball.'

La Salle pitchers were tough in last week's season openers, an 8-1 six-inning win over Marshall and a 15-1 rout of Tillamook.

Senior Duncan Mitchell, junior Joe O'Neill and sophomore Kramer Croisant teamed up to throw a one-hitter at Marshall, striking out 13.

Junior Mike Oborn and sophomore Nick Dieringer threw a 2-hitter in the five-inning game with Tillamook, striking out six.

Sophomore Bobby Ragasa will also see action on the hill. Croisant is the only left-hander of the bunch.

The Falcons will sport a young lineup, with only three seniors on the roster. But they are fielding a team that's a lot more experienced than last year's.

'We've got nine returning lettermen and out of 15 guys on the team, 11 played 'A' Legion ball for me last summer.'

George's summer team made a respectable showing, going 14-10.

George has two experienced players battling for the starting nod at catcher, senior Mark Meek and junior Billy Wainwright. Meek shared time behind the plate last year, while Wainwright saw starting action at second base.

The Falcons also have experience at shortstop, where junior Tony Titrud returns; and in the outfield, where Colby Neal returns to start in right field.

At first base, it'll be either Croisant or senior letterman Peter Socotch.

Ragasa moves up from jayvee to start at second; O'Neill and Dieringer will split time at third.

Junior Jared Kaufman, a transfer from Canby, has earned the nod in centerfield.

The Falcons were to host Molalla in this week's Capital Conference season-opener. They meet North Marion on the road today at 4:30 p.m.